Thanks to popular media, interventions have become a widely-known way to help people with addictions get into treatment programs. The problem, though, is that many people think these meetings are easier to carry out than they actually are.
In reality, an intervention is an extremely delicate situation that needs to be handled carefully to be safe and successful. If you're ready to take that step, the tips below from our substance abuse professionals can help.
If you're ready to confront a loved one about their addiction, the tips below will help you do it right.
Addiction is an illness. Just like you shouldn't urge a diabetic person to eat a doughnut, there are things you shouldn't do or say around people with addiction.
There are plenty of resources like the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence with helpful information. Educate yourself about your loved one's specific addiction (alcohol, opiates, stimulants, etc.) and encourage other friends and family members to do the same.
One of the most important factors in a successful intervention is who is in the room.
Don't necessarily choose the people closest to the person with the addiction. Invite people who are meaningful to them but who you can also count on to be supportive in the right way.
You need people who have an effect on the person, but people who can approach the subject in a concerned and positive way.
An interventionist is a mental health professional who specializes in interventions. They understand the psychology of addiction and they can help you figure out what your loved one needs to hear to accept treatment.
If the person with the addiction has been seeing a mental health professional, you may wish to include them as well.
We understand that addiction professionals aren't in everyone's budget. Still, they can be a powerfully helpful resource, especially for people who have never conducted an intervention before. It's worth finding out if everyone can chip in to afford a professional's guidance.
What you say in the meeting is crucial. Here are some important tips to keep in mind:
This is one part of the process during which a professional's guidance can be very helpful.
An intervention presents your loved one with a choice - either they can go to treatment and get better or there will be permanent consequences. It needs to be clear that their life will not continue on the same.
As you plan the intervention with the other people on the team, decide together on the consequences to lay out if the person doesn't accept treatment. They need to be clear and defined.
Think very strategically about the order in which each person in the room should speak. Think about how the person with the addiction may react to each person.
In many cases, if the person has a son or daughter (or someone they have a parent-like relationship with), this is the best person to have speak. It can also help to have their spouse go last, as this often prompts a positive action.
Keep in mind, though, that every situation is unique. It all depends on how the person relates to each member of the team, so plan carefully.
Each member of the team should gather and practice exactly what they plan to say. You need to see how the order flows and make sure everyone knows their role.
An intervention is a very emotional situation, and you don't want to be caught off-guard and have to react off-the-cuff.
Think about every way your loved one may react - anger, dismissal, denial, storming out, even attempts of self-harm. Make a plan for each scenario and ensure that everyone in the room is in agreement about the plan.
The intervention should take place in a neutral, welcoming environment that won't make your loved one defensive or agitated.
If possible, have the meeting at a time when your loved one is likely to be sober and at-ease.
If you wait until your loved one accepts treatment, it may be more difficult to find an open treatment option than you think.
Research addiction treatment centers and have one standing by with an open bed so you can immediately bring your loved one in.
As important as the planning is, what you do during the confrontation is vital as well. Here are some tips:
If your loved one feels like they're "in trouble," they'll become defensive and combative. Be conscious of the way you're sitting and of your facial expressions. For example:
You've chosen the words you chose for a reason. Unexpected changes can throw you off (and throw off the other people on the team). Instead, it's best to stick to the script and follow through with your plan.
It's very common for a person with the addiction to become angry during the confrontation. It's important that you don't stoop to their level.
In this situation, you (and everyone else on the team) need to stay calm and "be the bigger person." Sometimes a person will try to invoke an emotional reaction from you to divert the attention, but don't give in.
Whether or not the attempt is successful, it's absolutely crucial to keep any promises you made.
If your loved one chooses not to accept treatment, follow through firmly with every consequence you threatened.
If they accept treatment, you need to remain dedicated and supportive throughout their lifelong recovery.
An intervention can be a turning point toward someone changing their life and recovering from their addiction to lead a happier, more productive life. If you're ready to take that step, contact our addiction specialists for guidance.
Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on March 27th, 2018.
"headline": "Tips for Performing an Intervention",
"name": "Diamond House Detox"
"name": "Diamond House Detox",